Ruben Neves: It was chance to give my family life I have always dreamt of for them

Midfielder speaks for first time about his £47m switch from Wolves to Saudi Pro League's Al Hilal

Portuguese midfielder Ruben Neves has moved to Al Hilal from Wolverhampton Wanderers on a three-year deal. Getty
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Ruben Neves says his family were at the forefront of his decision to continue his career in Saudi Arabia with Al Hilal.

The Portuguese international, 26, made the lucrative move last month from Premier League side Wolves, signing a three-year contract with the Saudi Pro League club. The transfer fee was reported to be £47 million ($60m).

In his first official interview at Hilal, released on Sunday night, Neves told of his reasons for signing for the record 18-time Saudi champions.

"It was a good project,” he said. ”The club and the league presented a good project. My agent had the chance to speak to a lot of people involved in the Asian leagues and it was an easy decision to make.

"I wanted something new for my career, something else for my career. And when this chance came, I spoke with my family and everyone was really happy to come, so that was easy for me.

"The main factor was my family and the chance to give them the life I have always dreamt of for them – that was the biggest reason for me to not have any doubts.

"I have three kids and a lovely wife, and I need to take care of them, that is the biggest trophy in my career."

Neves added of the record four-time Asian champions: “But, of course, like I told you, the project of Al Hilal being the best club in Asia, the biggest club in Asia … all the fans as well.

“Since the news started to come my social media went crazy. It was unbelievable to see the amount of fans Al Hilal have and how passionate they are for football, so it was a good decision for me and my family, I’m sure.”

Last season, Hilal finished third in the league, 13 points off champions Al Ittihad, while they were also runners-up in both the Fifa Club World Cup and Asian Champions League.

“My biggest goal is giving my best, giving my 100 per cent to help the team to achieve their goals,” Neves said. “Because, as we all know, we are the biggest club in Asia, so we'll fight for every single title, and we'll try to do our best to win every single one as well.

“That's my main goal: win titles, win trophies with the team, and to give the fans reasons to be even more happy at the end of the season.”

Neves represents one of a number of top-level players to have already traded Europe for Saudi Arabia this summer. At Hilal, he has been joined by defender Kalidou Koulibaly and midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, from Chelsea and Lazio, respectively.

Meanwhile, Ittihad have signed Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and 2018 World Cup winner N’Golo Kante alongside Celtic’s Portuguese winger Jota.

Other players to have arrived in the Pro League include former Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Chelsea – the duo are now teammates at Al Ahli – and 2022/23 Uefa Champions League runner-up Marcelo Brozovic. The midfielder signed for Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr from Inter Milan.

"It’s really good for everyone involved in the league,” Neves said. “The main goal of the league is to improve, and they are doing a great job. They are bringing some fantastic players to the league, so it will be interesting to play here, with all the players we are seeing signing for every single club in the league.

"It is not just big clubs; I have seen some of my friends from Portugal sign for other clubs, so it will be interesting, because like I told you, the project is really good and in this first year we are already seeing the work of the people to improve the league as maximum as they can.”

Updated: July 17, 2023, 4:31 PM